Blues Blast Magazine - April 17 2020 - Review by Rhys Williams
Christina Crofts - Just How Love Feels | Album Review
9 songs – 35 minutes
Christina Crofts is an Australian singer/guitarist who released her debut solo album, MidnightTrain, way back in 2008. Since then, she did release a four-track EP, Like We Used To, in 2016, but spent much of the intervening period caring for her husband and mentor, guitarist Steve Crofts, who suffered from Huntingdon’s Disease and who eventually passed away in 2016. After his death, Crofts then suffered from her own anxiety disorder. Just How Love Feels is a glorious return from Crofts, however, showcasing her song writing, singing and blazing slide guitar.
Just How Love Feels is a short album, with all nine original songs packed into just over half an hour, but it’s a blazing half hour, bristling with attitude and bite. With muscular backing from bassist Stan Mobbs (Crofts herself also played bass on two tracks), drummers Ross Clark and Tony Boyd, this is traditional blues-rock played with an almost punk attitude without ever losing its heavy blues influences. Crofts spits out the lyrics with real venom, and she is totally believable when she snarls on the opening track, “Looking Back On You”: “The best sight I ever saw was looking back on you. You were crying on the highway in my rear view.” Some commentators have likened her voice to Lucinda Williams, but there is also some of cold fury of Jimmy Barnes and the wry coolness of Chrissie Hynde.
Equally important as her voice is her stellar slide guitar playing, which nods towards Rory Gallagher but retains the righteous ferocity of the great Rose Tattoo. She is one of the most impressive electric slide players this reviewer has heard in recent years. Her melodic playing on tracks like “Someone Younger” lifts the song onto a different plane.
Just How Love Feels is a blues-rock album that straddles the divide between the two styles beautifully. There are no “pure” blues songs on the album – indeed, in structure the songs sit firmly in the rock spectrum – but Crofts’s exemplary slide guitar playing ensures that every track is imbued with some deep blues. A song like “Just How Love Feels” would not sound out of place on a Cold Chisel album but the slide guitar is all blues. The minor key “Miss My Man” is perhaps the closest to a blues song, although there is also a hint of the Americana of Slaid Cleaves there too.
Although recorded as a threesome (with over-dubbed guitars and additional backing vocals from Ty Coates on two songs), Just How Love Feels has a warm, full sound so great credit is due to producers Russell Pilling and Marshall Cullen at Damien Gerard, as well as Don Bartley, who mastered the album at Benchmark.
If you enjoy the likes of Rory Gallagher, Rose Tattoo or even early Hanoi Rocks (on tracks like “Voodoo Queen” or “A380”), you will find a lot to enjoy in Just How Love Feels. Here’s hoping Crofts does not wait so long before releasing her next album. There is some serious talent here.
Reviews of 'Like We Used To" EP
In the boys’ club of Australian Blues, there is a dearth of stand-out women bandleaders. And the few who rise to the top are almost all singers. Which is great, but in a music that is built on the conversation between a human call and a tart guitar response, surprisingly few play blues guitar on the level of a Shane Pacey, Kirk Lorange or Jan Rynsaardt.
One who does is Christina Crofts. And no one plays guitar like Christina Crofts.
A rising voice in the Australian Blues world, Crofts consistently peels back the ears of audiences with her razor-toothed slide guitar work and very Lucinda Williams vocal and attitude. Her playing, performing and songwriting is imbued with the spirit of her late husband Steve, one of this country’s most underrated guitarists.
But Croft’s voice is very much her own and on her new EP – Like We Used To – she has realised the strongest expression of it yet.
Opener ‘Breakaway’ rolls in like a howling thunderstorm, shot through with the white lightning of Crofts’ Stratocaster. The rhythm section of Stan Mobbs and Tony Boyd literally thunder under the guitars – Crofts and engineer Russell Pillinghave gone for the over-amped Marshall sound of much contemporary blues here, and it is a force of nature.
The title track, ‘Like We Used To’, which follows is a tasty, upbeat contrast. A spry piece of Tex-Mex rock’n’roll, it has a sweetly nostalgic feel and a warm ear-worm of a guitar lick. It also brings out the country edge to Crofts’ vocal, which is a perfect foil to her six-string work.
Don’t Cry’ is even more country rock’n’roll with the groove held steady under the sure tiller of Mobbs and Boyd.
Closer ‘Lucy’ is a juicy Little Feat latino-funk groove which tells a story of Bad Woman Blues. Crofts’ slide-guitar here virtually scratches your eyes out from the first note, its tone befitting the morality tale of the home-wrecking protagonist. Crofts’ lyrics throughout deserve a mention: they work on classic blues and roots templates, as you want, but have a wit and originality about them which is a relief in an often cliché-sodden genre.
It’s been a long wait since 2008’s Midnight Train for some new music from Christina, but Like We Used To will convince anyone with ears that she is back and ready to spit sparks. Watch out boys – she’s the hellhound on your trail.
John Hardaker -
Mark (Radar) Watson
If scorching hot blues slide guitar and raunchy sizzling solo's are your thing, then check out the new 4 track EP "Like We Used To" by Christina Crofts. This little gem of an EP sizzles from start to finish with 2 smokin' country rock songs nestled in the middle. Features Stan Mobbs on bass, Tony Boyd on drums and Ty Coates on backing vocals. Definitely a must have. USA has Bonnie Raitt, Australia has Christina Crofts.
Reviews of Midnight Train (Released May 2008)
Nathan Norgel, (www.wasser-prawda.de)
"Midnight Train", Christina’s debut album on the market shows that she is not just some pussyfoot in the blues. Some liken her sound to that of Rory Gallagher. I myself also hear influences of Stevie Ray Vaughan and early Guns'n'Roses combined. But this is only a tedious description of her powerful, straight ahead, rocking songs in which nothing is of real comparison to women like Bonnie Riatt or the acoustic delicacy of a Rory Block. No - here rocks a woman with all the guitar driven power of a man’s world!
Ron (Rootstime - Online Magazine)
"'This is blues rock of a high quality....Lucinda Williams meets Rory Gallagher downunder!""